School board elects new president, officers

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 7, 2024

 Sean Cotton

Sean Cotton

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — The Grosse Pointe Board of Education has a new leader.

During a meeting Jan. 9 at Brownell Middle School, the board voted unanimously to name Sean Cotton as president for 2024. A business owner and attorney, Cotton was first elected to the board in 2022 and served as the treasurer last year.

Former President Ahmed Ismail, who served as president during 2023, took himself out of consideration for remaining in that role in 2024.

Citing “family medical” issues that he anticipates contending with for the next three to six months, Ismail said he wouldn’t have the time to devote to another term as president this year.

“I appreciate those of you that reached out to me about continuing as president,” Ismail said.

Ismail did say he would be able to serve as vice president — a role that had been filled by Lisa Papas in 2023. Nominated by Cotton, Ismail was elected to the vice presidency by a vote of 5-1, with Trustee Colleen Worden casting the dissenting vote. Papas was absent from the Jan. 9 meeting.

Terry Collins, a finance supervisor who was named to fill a board vacancy left by the departure last year of David Brumbaugh, was elected treasurer.

“He’s shown over the past number of years … that he is on top of the finances of the district,” said Ismail, who nominated Collins. “He is meticulous in his work.”

Collins was approved by a vote of 4-2, with Trustees Valarie St. John and Worden casting the dissenting votes.

Worden nominated St. John for secretary, saying that St. John takes thorough notes at each meeting already and, “She makes sure if there are any mistakes, we’re aware of them.”

Cotton, St. John and Worden voted in favor of St. John’s nomination, but it failed because Ismail, Collins and Trustee Virginia “Ginny” Jeup voted against it.

The board then voted 4-2 in favor of appointing Papas as secretary for 2024, with Worden and St. John casting the dissenting votes.

“I’m honored to serve,” Cotton said. “I’m stepping into some big shoes.”

None of the board members cited the reasons for their votes on board leadership.